The Wannabees Cycling Club has a very large member base and as far as I can see, the mountain biking group is very active. The club makes use of private land in the wine lands area of Sommerset West Cape Town. So a large trail network of approximately 100km has been laid out which crosses through the wine farms and offers everything from lunge bursting climbs (if wished) to specially built single track and farm roads through the vineyards. The trail builders have made single track to cater for all levels of biker. You can find berms, switch backs, jumps, a maize and even a Fat Bike track, not too mention the breath taking views over False Bay and at some points, Table Mountain.
Once in a while the club organizes social events from night rides to the annual mountain bike ride called “The Monster”
The 2017 Monster dawned on my as something to do as I had just bought a new full suspension mountain bike and needed a good excuse to put not only the Scott Spark 940 to the test, but myself. It had been a while since I had done any long rough mountain biking and had never really had any experience on a fully.
So this years Monster had the following story. Ride all the trails the club network had to offer, being an active club and catering for all levels of mountain biker, they had three routes for the cyclists to choose from “Short” 35km, “Medium” 70km and the “Monster” 100km. The ride started from Lord Charles parking area at prompt seven thirty. So standing at the ready and riding into daun, the MTB chairman asked how many groups will we have in our batch. Fast/Medium and Slow…..nobody raised their hand so off we went following our group leader on a MEDIUM pace. It was not long when Bruce (group leader/guide) said that it would not be long before the racing snakes of our group would split away but also loose some of the members, especially at that pace. We completed around 45km and stopped at the Sommerbosch deli for coffee, oats and the opportunity to fill our water bottles. Bruce mentioned while at Sommerbosch that many of the riders sit too long and then decide to bail after a hard ride. While we were there, some of our original group were about to continue the venture and as we knew, had lost a few riders (smirk)
Bruce and I crossed over the main road heading to the bace of the Helderberg Mountains where all the nasty climbing was found. The autumn colors in the vineyards were a real sight with Cape Dutch farms against the mountain backdrop. This section of trail crossed the Donier Wine Farm, we stopped for a coke and filled our bottles again. I will be back soon to visit their restaurant and do a wine tasting. Bruce pointed out our destination (way up the hill) and me being as enthusiastic as I was, said “OK” Heading through the vines we followed farm track and saw some baboon who made their presence know by barking as we passed. Some of the track we had to push the bikes as the camber and surface were just gruelling. Getting to the turning point of the ride we looked west towards Table Mountain and noticed the promised storm approaching with dark clouds. Until now the weather had been great but the wind was picking up. Bruce cautioned me on a section of single track coming and suggested I take it easy. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of this gnarly wooden burm. It would take not only skill, but a tad of madness to zoom round this thing. The down hill single trail went into a left turn and you were suddenly hit with a (in much need of repair) a wooden slatted burm which was at an angle shooting you further left and downwards. Your line would need to be perfect and should you make the slats, you’d need to then dose your speed as you immediately go into left/right sand burm AND NEED TO BRAKE.. We both walked this section. It would though be great to return and give a try. Again we met the original group of riders, back then at the start, around 18...now they were 6…..
Getting back to Sommerbosch and after completing the Donier section, the wind had picked up considerably, our Garmin GPS showed 80km logged and meant just another 20 to go. Luckily only 5km was into the wind. I must admit, my legs were now on automatic and very happy to have the finish in sight. Well kind off. A few drops started to fall and the wind got stronger. Bruce took me down a section of track called “The Bumps” it was amazing, with enough skill and speed one could fly over these things and spin the handle bars and do flikflaks…...(not crazy or young enough)
Getting back to Lord Charles and my car, I had to drop my seat dropper to get my leg up and over without cramping, the heavens opened and the much needed rain fell.
In closing, I’d like to mention my new wheels. I had JUST bought a secondhand Scott Spark 940. I have never really had experience with full suspension bike before. I will write another blog post soon and report my experience.